Saturday, July 13, 2013

31 Things Barbie Never Knew

Barbie's debut in 1959 is a distant galaxy away from 2013. I'm told little girls--straddling two centuries--still want Barbie cakes and pink boas and princess dresses along with their smart phones.  And when they grow up, our culture tells us they want a killer wardrobe and a red convertible with or without Ken or a suitable substitute. With all due respect to Mattel and its marketing genius, our girls will learn that life is no fairy tale to be lived in the confines of a pink vinyl Dream House. Life is too big for that. Real Life out of the Barbie box calls for a breadth skills that Barbie never needed and a depth of spiritual maturity to sustain us through the collapse of dreams and rebuilding of new ones.

This world's goods aren't enough.

Fashion falls short.

The blister pack of outfits with matching plastic pumps pales in comparison to the resources needed to face life outside the Dream House. It would take Skipper and Midge and Scooter and the whole crew to create a community of women and men to address life skills 101. We can help equip our daughters today with knowledge far better than a wish for Happily Ever After. 

  "31 things to teach your daughter" has been circulating with unnamed authors. I saw a compilation and made some changes tonight as I considered it. This is not comprehensive, but rather a starting place for a conversation for our girls...our nieces...our daughters. It is in stream-of-consciousness format: alternatively addressed to and about the girls of a coming generation.

[I've already lived through the 60's and '70s once, so please give a little grace for addressing boys and girls separately. I have learned that's it's actually ok....political correctness aside. Anyone reading this is likely inclined to be generous and not critical anyway. Thanks.]

1. Learn how to give a firm handshake. Teach girls to initiate a handshake confidently. Teach boys too.

2. Look people in the eye when you talk with them. Learn to express yourself well. 

3. Show respect for yourself and act in a way that is worthy of respect. This includes the way you dress and speak. Yes, it sounds old fashioned, like something out of the '50s. I make no apologies. Some things are just timeless.

Make new friends and keep the old. Plastic shoes are disposable; people are not. We need one another.
Pay attention to how guys treat their moms, and stay clear of the ones who are not respectful. Don't kid yourself: You are not likely to be the exception.

6. Don't turn red flags pink. When you see a red flag in a relationship, don't tell yourself that it's really no big deal; it is. You can't make it fade or disappear. It is there as a warning.

7. Know how to change a tire, throw a football, drive a stick shift, and use a drill.

8. Have your own tool kit and know how to use it.

9. Don’t be afraid to use your voice – sometimes it’s the most powerful tool you have.

10. Know basic self defense – be able to get out of a situation, and run fast. And use that powerful voice.

11. Teach them how to apologize well; it will be necessary often. Model it for best results. The word "Sorry" is not an apology. And practice accepting an apology. Forgiveness is not easy, and it is not optional. 

12. Images published in magazines and online are photoshopped. They are altered reality. Anyone can manipulate brush strokes to have flawless skin or look skinny. Confidence and optimism are more attractive than a size on a label. And joy that comes from within beats a fake smile any day.

13. Laugh often, but not at others' expense. Laughter can diffuse a challenging situation, especially when you can laugh at yourself.

14. Block out the toxic voices that tell you you are not worth loving. You are beloved of the Father and a precious child of God. Not every opinion is worth listening to; Listen to the ones that matter, and learn whose opinion you will allow to shape your thoughts.

15. Advertisers spend millions to get into your head and wallet, and they are exceedingly good at it. Don't buy everything they are selling. And don't buy what you do not need.

16. Life is full of mountains and valleys. Not all mountains can be moved no matter how much we try. We learn--like that childhood Bear Hunt--sometimes we have to go through it. Or around it. To get to the other side. Practice courage and perseverance. Both are needed.

17. Write a proper handwritten thank you letter. Texting is no substitute. Add to this basic table manners. Manners is shorthand for many behaviors taught in Barbie's day and encompasses a way of living in community with courtesy for others. Showing concern for the other person is in short supply today. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Do not interrupt grownups. Boys and girls who have good manners are welcome most anywhere, I remember learning. Manners have gotten caught in the crossfire of our culture, and our lack of civility and boorish rudeness bears witness to their demise. 

18. How to manage her money.

Nobody has it all. Don't fall for that one either.

20. How to handle herself online – using effective privacy settings, remembering that anything shared is already out of her hands, and knowing that people online aren’t always who they say they are. This is a minefield in her future.

Be slow to anger

22. Love fiercely.

23. Dream big, and set realistic goals. You can accomplish far more than you think you can.

24. Develop your strengths and talents. Know your personal limits and weaknesses as well. Once you identify them you can use them as a platform for action in your life and a landing place to rebuild.

25. Most things worth having or worth doing require sacrifice. Count the cost. Everything has a price.

26. Try to live with few regrets.

27. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Push the limits. Try. Try again. That's not trite; its called perseverance, and it's hard. You can do hard things.

28. Learn basic sewing skills. Everyone needs to know how to sew on a button and mend a hem. Just another form of a toolbox--with a string.

Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Listen to that prompting, and don’t silence it.

Life comes unraveled when we least expect it. Sometimes we mend and help another; sometimes we need mending. Know where to go and how to ask for help. In my faith experience, there is a Healer who mends our broken places; God sometimes cures in the mending, but always  provides a way through life's unraveling times, moving toward ultimate healing.

31. There is more to this world than meets the eye. Pursue things that last. Develop an eternal perspective.

Thanks to Sally for beautiful Barbie cake. ;-)